.. having many problems of their own. The fiberglass boats they were using were ripped on the coral reef, and some of the engines wouldnt start. Lieutenant Erneido Oliva was in charge of the invasion at Playa Larga. He started the day on the Houston, and when he saw trouble, he immediately left before the ship was sunk by Castros air force (“The Price”).
Oliva eventually led his force onto the beach, many of his men were shot on the way. Finally, early in the evening, Oliva and his men were in the small village of Palpite, where 1,000 Cuban militiamen met them there. When Oliva described the battle afterwards, he said, “I call this the night of the heroes. We had three tanks. They had 40.
Castros artillery shelled us for two or three hours, at least 2,000 rounds” (“The Price”) This was the main battle during the entire invasion, and no ground was gained by the invaders. Soon after this battle, Oliva was forced to return to the beachhead at Giron, near the Bay of Pigs location. By this time in the evening, nine of the United States 16 planes had been shot down and were disabled permanently. Late in the evening, Oliva decided to regroup everyone. He wanted to run into the Escrambray Mountains, located about 80 miles away. The CIA leaders in charge of the operation overrode this decision over the radio, and ordered Oliva to stay.
Navy support was promised to be there as soon as possible to aide Oliva in his attack (“The Price”). However, the Navy never arrived at the beach to participate in the invasion. As the battle worsened, many of the Presidents advisers, both military and non-military, begged for the use of the planes located on the carriers located near the shore (“If U.S.” 47) Kennedy denied the use of these planes, and they remained grounded. The next afternoon, Oliva and many of the troops were exhausted, and most of them were out of ammunition. Oliva radioed into the CIA, located on a Navy ship several miles from the battle, screaming, “We have nothing left to fight with! How can you people do this to us, our people, our country?” Grayston Lynch, CIA person in charge replied, “Im sorry, and good luck” (“The Price”). The CIA was abandoning the soldiers on the shore completely.
“Pepe” Perez San Roman, commander of the Brigade 2506, radioed into the U.S. Navy destroyers, yelling, “How do these people expect me to defend the beach with no air force, no artillery, and no antiaircraft guns? Im a military man, not a magician” (“The Price”). Commander San Roman felt he did not have the proper equipment and personnel for a successful invasion. Meanwhile, during the fighting on the shore, Castros police arrested 2,000 Cubans who might have joined the invaders and caused an uprising (Flaherty 93). Once Castro expected an invasion, he kept a close eye on anyone who might have defected and joined the United States. Part of the original plan by the CIA assumed Oliva and his men would seize the beachhead at Playa Larga, where volunteers and defectors from Castro were to join them and help fight.
The arrested Cubans were collected into auditoriums and theaters in the cities. Anyone who was expected to be in underground connections was taken into custody. The Cuban Revolution Council, a group of Cuban citizens who were against Castro and Communism, went into hiding early on Sunday, before the invasion took place (Schlesinger 274). On Monday and Tuesday, Kennedy held meetings in the White House. Kennedy and his advisers were very concerned about the members of the Brigade and the other invaders. Kennedy, however, refused to send in the Marines (Schlesinger 276).
However, officials still refused to let the American people know there was an invasion. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, during a press conference stated: “The American people are entitled to know whether we are intervening in Cuba or intend to do so in the future. The answer to that question is no. What happens in Cuba is for the Cuban people to decide.” (275) Not only did American leaders hold back information from the public, but they lied about the entire thing even happening. Even while the invasion was taking place, the CIA and Kennedy denied that anything was happening outside of the United States.
On Tuesday morning, San Roman and Oliva gathered their troops, and abandoned the entire invasion. All members of the invasion, both American and Cuban returned back to the ships, and returned to the United States. Everyone has their own opinions on the reasons for the failure at the Bay of Pigs. Many people believe we never should have tried to invade Cuba. The CIA investigated the Bay of Pigs shortly after the incident, but their report has never been published.
This report was written by General Maxwell Taylor, who later became Joint Chief of Staff; Allen Dulles, director of CIA who planned and supervised the attack; Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations; Attorney General Robert Kennedy, President Kennedys brother (Flaherty 92). However, this report remains locked in a safe owned by the CIA, and contains important information never released to the public. John F. Kennedy believed that the entire operations failed because of many miscalculations: 1) Not sending enough troops for the invasion 2) Assuming the B-26 air attack would provide air cover and support 3) Assuming the landing would be a surprise 4) Assuming that the troops could go into the hills and fight if anything went wrong on the beach (Flaherty 92) The CIA and Cuban exiles pointed their fingers back at Kennedy, and blamed him for his failure to approve air strikes that would have made the attack much easier (“Bay of”). The White House concluded in its own report, “The President listened to bad advice, and failed to spot all of the errors in advance” (Flaherty 92).
Yet another error made was the miscalculation of Castros power. Castro was much more powerful than expected, and his planes took off at the first possible moment. Castros police eliminated anyone who might have defected, and his soldiers stood their ground, and fought to win (Schlesinger 293). Castro and his forces acted perfectly, and stopped the invasion before it even had a chance to start. Castro and his forces killed 200 rebel soldiers, and captured 1,197 men (“Bay of”).
Fidel Castro held a mass trial for the men who were captured, and each was sentenced to 30 years in prison. After 20 months in of negotiations, the prisoners were sold back to the U.S. in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine. Tom Flaherty, writer for Life Magazine concluded: “It has been, and it will be argued for years, that there is at least a part of the truth in the differing points of view of all who played a part in the debacle. But the largest and most important truth springs from the disputable facts. The men of Brigade 2506 believed, until the end, that the United States would not let their invasion fail.
They were wrong.” (Flaherty 94) In conclusion, the Bay of Pigs has many unanswered questions. There are many facts stored in the CIA building that the public will never know. Kennedy and the CIA made many mistakes. They did not expect Castro to react so quickly, they figured the attack would be a surprise, they assumed many Cubans would defect from Castro, and help the U.S. fight. The undisputed fact is that the U.S.
lost the battle at the Bay of Pigs. Nothing was gained, and nearly brought the U.S. into war with Cuba and its ally, Russia. After nearly 40 years, the Bay of Pigs remains the largest mistake made by United States officials. Bibliography WORKS CITED “Bay of Blunders.” Savannah Now.
1998. 10 April 2000 Crassweller, Robert D. Cuba and the U.S.: The Tangled Relationship. New York: The Foreign Policy Association, 1971. Flaherty, Tom.
“What We Learned from the Bay of Pigs.” Readers Digest July 1963: 92-94. Frankel, Max. “Cuba – A Case of Communist Take-Over.” The New York Times Magazine July 1961: 59-64 Guido, Jessica. “The Invasion and the Failure.” The Invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. 1999. 11 April 2000.
“If U.S. Had Used Its Power at the Bay of Pigs.” U.S. News and World Report. 17 May 1965: 47. Pearson, Drew. “Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Cuba.” Saturday Review 29 March 1969: 12-16.
“The Price of Military Folly.” U.S. News Online. 1996. 10 April 2000. Robinson, Linda. “What Didnt We Do to Get Rid of Castro?” U.S. News Online.
1996. 10 April 2000. Schlesinger, Arthur M. A Thousand Days. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965.